100 Panked parties and many more memories

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First Posted: 4/29/2014

There have been cavemen, “Star Wars” characters, jazzercise enthusiasts, and even “moms” and “dads.” There’s always plenty of booze flowing and sick dance moves – and fun. An atmosphere of frivolity is what has permeated Panked, a monthly dance party at The Bog in Scranton that will celebrate its 100th party on May 1.

”It’s ridiculous,” Conor McGuigan, who started the Panked parties with his friend Brian Langan, said of the long run the festivities have had. “We’ve been doing this for so long, every month, and we get so pumped for it every single time. It’s our favorite night of the month.”

Panked began eight years ago in a way that is summed up by both Langan and McGuigan as a conversation that went as simply as, “Hey, do you want to do this?” “Yeah, let’s do it.” That easygoing, run-with-it thought process has kept on throughout the years with Panked, a string of festivities that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

When Langan speaks of it, it’s clearly made up of go-with-the-flow ideas, making it a unique experience every time.

“We do really everything, from the ‘60s to soul, psychedelic rock, disco, ‘80s funk,” Langan said of the music selection, which is sometimes spun by DJs and sometimes by Langan and McGuigan themselves. “By the end of the night, when everyone’s been drinking a bit, they just want Salt-N-Pepa, some ‘Rump Shaker.’”

The decorations, which are always purchased at Cal-Ideas in Dunmore, also flow into the theme, as Cal-Ideas is a place where Langan said “you can find anything.”

There’s a different theme assigned to every party, hence the cavemen, “Star Wars,” and jazzercise outfits. Even after eight years and 100 gatherings, the idea well has not run dry.

“We do have to dig deep sometimes, but whatever we do, people get behind it,” McGuigan said. “We once did something where it was just that everyone had to wear denim. It was great. Whatever we throw to the public, they’re into.”

Those attending have also helped to keep Panked going strong.

“It’s nice, seeing over the eight years the revolving people, the crowd,” Langan observed. “I mean, people graduate, they move, so there’s always new people coming through, but there’s also the people who have been coming forever.”

Langan said he has yet to hear of anything like Panked that goes on in the area, a laidback, loose party.

“It’s nice because what we do, it’s a dance party but you don’t have to get all clubbed out,” Langan said. “Although we did do a Jersey Shore theme one night, and that was great.”

While the atmosphere is a huge part of it, one can’t forget the root and reason for it all – the dancing. A two-man judging team bestows prizes upon the best.

“The prizes are… they’re good,” McGuigan said with a laugh. “We get them from Cal-Ideas, the Salvation Army. One time we gave away a quilt that had ‘N Sync on it.”

For the 100th party, McGuigan and Langan are pulling out all the stops, and McGuigan even spoke of a possible Panked Lifetime Achievement Award.

“We’re going to look around, see who’s put in the most time,” McGuigan said of how the prize will be awarded. “The most Panks will probably get the Lifetime Achievement Award.”

There have been so many memorable moments not only for Panked patrons, but for the guys, such as McGuigan’s Tusken Raider costume (“I saw something beige and I went around and bought every beige thing I could,” he said of his trip to the Dollar Store to make it) and the time the entire party danced in unison.

“We used a projector and we play things on the ceiling, and the first time we did ‘Pankercize,’ we played old exercise instructional videos,” McGuigan explained. “Well, I was getting a record and I looked down and when I looked up… somehow, in that time that I had looked down, the entire bar was in unison, following the instruction on the ceiling, so they were doing squats and bends. It was like they were dancing, just to Suzanne Somers.”